person holding amber glass bottle

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful disorder that affects the hand and wrist. What is the carpal tunnel? Actually, anatomically speaking, it is a real tunnel formed by the bones and tissue of your wrist. It serves as a protector of the nerve that innervates your thumb, index, middle and ring fingers. When the tissue in the carpal tunnel becomes inflamed, the nerve is irritated and in turn, your hand may hurt or become numb.

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome typically starts gradually. You might feel an ache in your wrist that may eventually move into your hand or forearm.

You might also experience:

  • numbness or tingling in your hand and fingers
  • increased pain when moving your hand or wrist
  • weakness and difficulty gripping objects
  • noticeable pain in your wrist, palm or forearm
  • increased pain and/or numbing while trying to sleep

Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Repetitive hand movements is typically the main cause of carpal tunnel. You may have heard the term, repetitive strain injury. This term is used to describe carpal tunnel syndrome because it is associated with repetitive hand movements. It can also be caused by awkward hand positions, frequent gripping action, continuous vibration, and/or continuous stress to the palm of the hand.

People at risk of getting carpal tunnel syndrome include those who work at the computer all day, cashiers, carpenters, gardeners and even mechanics.

Prevention of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

One of the main preventative measures of carpal tunnel syndrome involves making physical adjustments in the work environment in order to minimize repetitive work habits. Create an ergonomic work station and use proper body mechanics. You can actually have fun trying different ways to perform your work in a way that won’t cause undue stress and strain on your body.

Massage and the Treatment of Carpal Tunnel

Massage therapy research has shown that massage can often reduce and slow down the progression of carpal tunnel symptoms. According to a recent study by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Florida, massage therapy helped to reduce pain, increase grip strength, and reduce carpal tunnel symptoms for participants who were computer operators or word-processors (Field et al, 2004).

So if you are in a high risk group where repetitive movements cannot be avoided, you might consider incorporating massage into your lifestyle.